With Dean Pees gone and Ryan Nielsen just hired as the Falcons’ new defensive coordinator, it was always likely that we would see some change in the defensive coaching staff. It appears the turnover is immediate as the Falcons announced three layoffs on Friday night.
At the end of their story about hiring the team from Nielsen, the Falcons announced they had parted ways with Second Hoke, defensive line coach Gary Emanuel and outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino. All three spots are likely to be filled by candidates handpicked by Nielsen, leaving respected linebacker coach Frank Bush as the only bridging position coach on Nielsen’s staff. Bush is training for the Falcons as defensive coordinator at the Shrine Bowl.
Hoke, Monachino and Emanuel all joined the team when Pees was hired and are retired on defense after two stunning seasons. Hoke oversaw a secondary school that was plagued by injuries but saw real year-on-year improvement from Richie Grant and AJ Terrell, while Emanuel TaQuon Graham coached and got some good out of a ragtag crew of undrafted free agents and one-year signings along the way line of defense. Monachino, who oversaw a group that could be relied on to rush the passerby, didn’t have much luck eliciting that kind of production from young players like Adetokunbo Ogundeji, Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone.
So it’s fair to say that given what they’ve been working with and the solid results they’ve had, these three coaches are being fired because Nielsen wants their own boys. All three should be able to quickly find other roles in the NFL or college ranks, and I personally wish them the best.
Who might Nielsen hire? Pass-rush specialist Brian Young may be on his way from New Orlenas to Atlanta as the new outside linebacker coach, while assistant secondary coach Cory Robinson seems a logical candidate to join as Atlanta’s secondary coach. I’m less sure who Nielsen will bring to the defensive line coach – remember, that’s his specialty and he’ll likely come in handy – but we should know soon enough. When the Falcons fire coaches, they probably have candidates in mind to replace shortly.
I wish these trainers well, and we’ll likely have news of new hires in the next week or so.